They fit in your hand, weigh no more than a bag of sugar, yet fly in space and perform experiments. They are CubeSats, a new generation of miniature satellites. Now, ESA is looking for the best student-built CubeSats to launch into space.
Send us your proposal by 1 March and your satellite could end up circling our planet.
Fly Your Satellite! is a new ESA initiative offering university student teams the opportunity to design, build and eventually launch CubeSats into space. Besides the educational objective, each CubeSat may pursue a specific scientific or technical goal.
CubeSats are tiny. They may be as small as just 10 cm on all sides and weigh no more than a kilogram, yet they are packed with miniature electronics that allow them to operate as any larger satellite would.
Being so small, they cannot carry a large range of experiments and instruments but they can be invaluable training grounds for students who are thinking of following careers in the space field.
Tomorrow’s Europe will be run by today’s students. And Europe’s future is a place of increasing technology, brought into everyday usage to make our lives easier and more efficient. It is essential to train a skilled and confident workforce.
Fly Your Satellite! builds on the success of the ‘CubeSats for the Vega Maiden Flight’ pilot programme. This culminated last year with the launch of seven student-built CubeSats on the first flight of the new Vega launcher.
Some of Vega’s student CubeSats were firsts for their countries. In three cases – Romania, Hungary and Poland – the CubeSats were the first national satellites ever launched. All served different educational, technical or scientific aims.
Measuring the radiation environment in orbit, demonstrating innovative satellite control systems and testing a satellite deorbiting device were just some of the goals of the Vega CubeSats.
Each CubeSat team chosen for 2013’s Fly Your Satellite! must have similarly high aspirations. To earn their ticket to space, they must pass every stage of a rigorous assessment process, just as any of ESA’s largest missions are put through. This includes testing at ESA’s facilities.
During the development, ESA will work to identify an appropriate launch opportunity.